I used to be pretty close-minded when I was younger. I thought I was right when I wasn’t. I had a limited set of hobbies. I wasn’t interesting and interested in others so I came off boring and cold.
But I didn’t want a boring life without friends or women. So I started to change my perspective.
I’ll show you how to become more open minded.
What is an Open Minded vs. Close Minded Person?
Open minded versus narrow minded people think and act wildly differently, though the differences can sometimes be subtle.
An open minded person is fine with new, unfamiliar strategies and ideas. This can extend to adopting new cultures or finding faster ways of achieving a goal. They don’t let their ego prevent them from questioning their beliefs.
A close minded person or narrow minded person is someone who is against considering new ideas and who believes his opinions about how life works must be right. There are many reasons why this happens, including fear of the unknown, comfort with familiarity, and ego.
According to the billionaire Ray Dalio’s book, Principles, a close minded person:
- blocks others from speaking.
- lacks a deep sense of humility.
- doesn’t like their ideas challenged.
- rarely asks questions, prefers statements.
- has a focus on being understood rather than to understand.
- holds closely to what he believes and isn’t willing to change.
- has more interest in being proven right than hearing other perspectives.
- has trouble having two conflicting thoughts in their head at the same time.
- starts off by saying, “I could be wrong, but…” to convince himself and others he’s open-minded when he isn’t.
Whereas, an open -minded person:
- genuinely believes he could be wrong.
- is compelled to see through others’ eyes.
- is more interested in listening than speaking.
- approaches everything with the belief he may be wrong.
- is curious and isn’t angry when there’s disagreement.
- knows when to make statements and when to ask questions.
- is capable of holding two conflicting thoughts in his head and assessing relative merits.
A close minded person is similar but not the same as a small minded person. A small minded person is someone who gets caught up in trivial problems or concerns in life at the cost of long term happiness and success. An example would be a woman arguing with and obsessing over a lady who acted slightly rude to her so much that it makes her sad the rest of the day, completing forgetting that she is healthy and young, her family is alive, and she’s living in the top 1% wealthiest percentile of the world. Why are people close minded? They’re often born naive and stay ignorant about how to live life most strategically.
The difference between open minded and close minded people is in their willingness to adopt new ideas and beliefs, ways of life, or practices. It can be as small as trying a new Afghan cuisine to as big as living in a new country.
Why Open Minded People Live In A Better Reality & Succeed More (Benefits of Open Mindedness)
A new psychological study by Antinori, Carter, & Smillie revealed that open-minded people may live in a completely different reality. They found that openness and mood can affect how you visually perceive the world, which can affect creativity.
Another study by Stanovich & West found that open-minded thinking, the ability to evaluate objective argument quality independent of prior belief, was reliably linked to cognitive ability.
One of Ray Dalio’s main principles is radical open mindedness and transparency. He explains that in order to achieve your goals, you need to set aside your ego and find the truth of who to get there. To do this, you have to get the perspective of different people with knowledge and ways of seeing the world that are different from you. That way, you can account for factors you didn’t even consider.
The billionaire Charlie Munger has credited being an open-minded, lifelong learner to the success of his business. He points to how they would have plateaued early on if they had continued with their original “Ben Graham” investment style because there came a point where it no longer worked in the modern business world. Charlie and his partner, Warren Buffett, have constantly emphasized the importance of challenging established beliefs, like scientists.
I have made a conscious effort to become more open in the last couple years because:
- A wider range of activities in your daily life appear fun, so you’re less bored.
- You’re less of an repelling asshole by doing more than just what amuses you.
- You become more of an interesting, attractive person by trying out more activities than the rigid “video games and porn” of a typical nerd.
- You’re less of an annoying downer to be around when your movie tastes, food tastes, or other interests clash with people you want to hang out with.
- You develop more relationships and communication skills with others by showing more sympathy by taking into account their interests and dislikes.
- You become more attractive romantically by showing strong mental health with adaptability and resiliency (mentally unhealthy people stick with what they know too much).
- You’re more creative and detect more possibilities, which is great for any artistic craft, analytic work, business decision, or research.
For example, if you are close-minded (which I used to naturally be) you are, by definition, less likely to be unwilling to put aside personal bias to find the truth about the world. It’s unscientific.
We naturally walk around with hundreds of biases of different degrees: sexism, greed, racism, commitment and consistency bias, liking bias, the halo effect, social proof bias, and so on.
What the scientific method does is root out as many of these biases as possible by sticking to a strict procedure, controlling all factors, and looking at just the results. It’s not perfect but a lot better than most other processes. In fact, it’s helped us double our life expectancy, travel to the moon, and realize that the planets don’t revolve around us and that maggots don’t spawn from dead flesh.
However, on a person-to-person level, we don’t interact on through the scientific method. We let out biases seep out unconsciously and we often come into a debate already decided on our beliefs before considering the other side.
Being more open-minded is tough. When you’re in the moment, and swept up with emotion, you don’t want to even consider someone else’s perspective. You’re heated. Maybe you’re even angry. So how do you do it?
Listen to my podcast of how to be more open-minded:
Download this podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher to listen to on your phone while you’re on the go.
In addition, being more open minded can improve your dating success.
The Mating Grounds podcast and its counterpart book What Women Want, bring on board hundreds of scientific studies and dozens of revered scientists to decipher the science of attraction. They found that adopting more open minded characteristics, like the willingness to try new restaurants and cuisines in the area or trying on new clothes, signals mental health through playfulness and adaptability, key traits women unconsciously look for in a mate.
So how do you improve open mindedness? Here are some tips:
Let Pain Be Your Guide
Pain is often a sign that you’ve become too attached to an idea that keeps getting challenged. Be mindful of the negative feelings, and try to calm down. It’s not easy, but with practice, it will improve your self-control.
Turn Open Mindedness Into a Habit
If you pay attention, you can become more aware of bad feelings, like anger and frustration, when they happen. From there, you can work on turning down those emotions and behaving more rationally. It’s hard to do since this involves battling your lower-level, reptilian brain. But give yourself a few moments to cool down. The emotional side of your brain subsides quickly, which will eventually let the thinking side of your brain take over.
Document Your Blind Spots
Record all the major mistakes you’ve made in your life. Ask smart people when you’ve made mistakes or had blind spots in your decision making. Have this list accessible whenever you’re making a major decision, so you can factor in what you didn’t in the past. Also, make sure you consult with people you trust who can see in perspectives you can’t before making huge decisions.
If Many Credible People From Different Domains Disagree, It’s A Sign You’re Wrong
If many people with credibility and achievements in the skill or industry your facing a problem in disagrees with you about a potential decision, that’s a sign that you are wrong. Be humble enough to consider that you may not be right. Bring in a neutral third party person you trust to weigh in and break the stalemate if you have to.
This is an optional but useful practice that can enhance creativity and improve your ability to stay calm in chaos, while thinking clearly despite your emotions. Ray practices transcendental meditation specifically. Meditation has been scientifically proven to improve focus, reduce stress, and enhance emotional control.
Become the Expert of the Other Side First
The billionaire Charlie Munger has said numerous times that the world would be a much better place if you didn’t take aside until you can argue the other side better than anyone else. But most people don’t because it’s less work to skip the research.
If someone believes that everyone should be vegan, she usually knows a few reasons for why being a vegan is beneficial but not much on why being vegan may be wrong or unhealthy. If she could understand and argue the other side better than anyone else, she would be ten times more persuasive because she can address and counter any claim and she’s proven to be an expert. Moreover, she can be more confident in her decision.
Learning more about the other side can help you optimize your life by getting you to make better decisions than you would have. For example, if you’re close-minded, you may not see the value in meditation or journaling. But if you open yourself to researching thoroughly the science and evidence, you may change your mind and it may actually improve your results in life.
Don’t Swing to Extremes
“Another thing I think should be avoided is extremely intense ideology because it cabbages up one’s mind. When you’re young, it’s easy to drift into loyalties and when you announce that you’re a loyal member and you start shouting the orthodox ideology out, what you’re doing is pounding it in, pounding it in, and you’re gradually ruining your mind.” -Charlie Munger, speech at USC
You should avoid swinging to the other end of the pendulum and becoming too open-minded as well. The biggest danger I can think of is if you are so willing to try new things without factoring in the potential risks of death, poor health, or permanent drops in performance that can occur.
Drugs and traveling alone with strangers that can rape, hurt, or murder you abroad or in unfamiliar areas come to mind. It sounds obvious but it’s still worth warning against.
How to Deal with Close Minded People
Accept close minded people for who they are. By definition, they are hard or impossible to change.
If you can, spend more time with open minded people if you struggle with getting innovative ideas or styles across.
You may be able to change some close minded people into more open minded people, but it can take years and it’s often done through symbiosis and leading-by-example rather than logically arguing with them. Seeing the benefits of another way of life is often a better emotional persuader than logic. Forcing or trying to hard to change someone often backfires.
Respect the beauty of close minded people because being close minded isn’t always bad. Being too open minded can lead to downfall as well. Just because something is fresh or different doesn’t mean it’s better. Some activities, like hard drugs or a leisure, laid back culture, may destroy your chances of achieving your life goals.
Open minded and closed minded mindsets are an overlooked, but incredible way to improve your chances of success in life. What have you learned here to stay open minded? Let me know in the comments.